Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Budgeting and Finance

Almost all complex organizations – whether a college, university, government agency, or corporation – find budgeting processes to be complicated or even mystical. Below are some ideas for increasing accountability, transparency, and expertise in budgeting and finance.

Make the budgeting process easier for all employees and the community at large to understand

Replace contingencies in each budget, with one real contingency

Institute program-based accounting or “block budgeting”

Institute zero-based budgeting

Improve the year-to-year continuity of the budgeting process

Train deans and all budget managers in fiscal and budget management

Improve budgeting and tracking to provide control over temporary and part-time employees

Create funding incentives for departments to generate revenues and lower costs

Improve or implement cost accounting

Require cost justification for all major expenditures

Review the use and allocation of the supplies budget

Track grants and special funding sources comprehensively

Simplify the bill-paying system to ensure bills are paid on time to avoid late charges or cessation of services

Use state program-based funding formulas as benchmarks to fund departments

The shortest recorded period of time lies between the minute you put some money away for a rainy day and the unexpected arrival of rain.
-Jane Bryant Quinn

KH Consulting Group (KH) started this Know-How site in 2009 to create a forum for sharing ideas on effectively enhancing revenues and containing costs in higher education in the near and longer term.

KH has posted more than 500 ideas. You can join the forum at:

Note: The ideas shared are not prescriptive and will not work in all situations or at all institutions. Some of the ideas are tactical – quick victories to save money in easy ways. Others are strategic, requiring careful analysis before implementing.


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